Manager? What do you mean by that?


Photo by Abulic Monkey

When you hear the word “manager”, what do you think about? Which role do you imagine?

Yesterday, I was presented with the following question in class:

“From your experience, what specific qualities does it take to be an effective manager?”

Now, I have my own answers, like the ability to listen, to identify strengths and weakness in others and the ability to give specific, constructive and practical feedback. But then someone in our class said: “entrepreneurism”. For a minute I was shocked. I value entrepreneurism, but what that has to do with managing people?

Then it hit me. He was not talking about managing people; he probably had a different picture of a manager in mind. Because, if you are a product manager or a customer service manager or any other type of role that comes with the word “manager” attached to it, you don’t necessarily manage other people. You might even work alone or directly with clients but with no subordinates under your direct supervision. You might work in as a part of team of very independent people who work as equals.

And if any of those descriptions fit your role, it means that this role requires different “specific qualities” in order to be effective. For example, you might need to have enough confidence to admit that you don’t know everything. Or you might need to ability to make hard decisions in short times. Or you might need to have leadership qualities.  And sometimes you might need to have entrepreneurship qualities. But not always. It depends on your role. Because the fact that you have the word “manager” in your title or on your business card does not mean anything.

So, what is the bottom line? I think that when we discuss the word “manager” or think of hiring someone for a “managerial” role, it is very important to understand and to communicate” what exactly this manager is? Because the word “manager” triggers the imagination of people differently and it had become too generic to be understood by its own.


5 Responses to “Manager? What do you mean by that?”

  1. Andrew Careaga Says:

    Good thoughts. The traditional role of manager is changing, however, as organizations change. Generally speaking, organizations are moving away from hierarchical, command-and-control structures to flatter, more internetworked structures where power and information is more equally distributed. That’s where some traditional managers struggle, especially when they feel their power or control is threatened.

    I would say that in some sectors, just about everyone is a manager — if not of people or budgets, at least of information, projects and processes.

  2. sherfelad Says:

    Hey Andrew,
    Thanks for your comment!
    that is just it. If you think about a manager’s role to work with people, it does not really matter if it is an hierarchical or flatter structures. In order to do be great at it, the skills needed are very similar. but if “just about everyone is a manager” of “budgets, … information, projects and processes”, then the defenition of manager changes…

  3. zanee Says:

    hye.. im studying in bachelor of aviation management..n i’ve worked as project manager in construction company opinion is
    basically, it depends on the job that ure in to.its not only about managing people.. u have to co-operate with youre staffs.cooperation between manager and the workers are very important.and a manager should have skills 2 plan, motivate, organising, controlling esp leading.and the most important thing is manager should be discipline.

  4. sherfelad Says:

    Hey Zanee,

    Thanks for your comment.
    I realize there are different perceptions of what a manager is. I also understand that some of the roles that people with the title “manager” fill are very challenging. But if we focus on semantics, I want in this blog to use the word manager as a word for a person who manages people. I just think that is the best use of the word and that we should find another word for all the rest of the roles…

    Hope you are enjoying the blog and hope to see your comments again!

  5. wafa Says:

    according to my understanding mangagers are all those poeple to home the mangement tasks are assigned and they are
    performing it through the functional keys of palnning,directing,organizing and controlling in order to achive the organizitional target…

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